Overnight, as we approached the island of Madeira, the winds gradually increased from the south-west, reaching 50 knots in the wee hours, a portent of things to come perhaps? Funchal lies in a shallow bay, the harbour being protected by a breakwater which runs parallel with the coast.
Our plan A was to swing outside the breakwater and then back-in towards the berth, however at 6 a.m. in the morning, with winds outside of 35 knots, this seemed unworkable, turning involved putting the wind on our beam and way out of our parameters. So plan B was put into effect, straight in, bow first. Using the wind to our advantage, letting it push us north into the bay and at the same timekeeping the speed suitable, the intent being to stay with the bow pointing almost into the wind and negating its effect. A switch to ‘joystick’ as we passed the end of the breakwater and 15 minutes later we were alongside and making fast our lines.
Daylight broke and the sun burned off all but the most persistent clouds which were covering the higher hills and by 9 a.m. the sun was shining and guests were going ashore.
Funchal is a beautiful city, tree-lined boulevard and the temperate climate is ideal for blossoming flowers and fresh fruit. We took a shuttle bus from the ship, which took us to the centre of the city and from here we walked towards the cable-car, a ‘must’ for anyone visiting. It takes one up to the high peak which overlooks the city, not only that, it is the starting point for another ‘must do’, a sled-ride back down that same peak. A shuttle bus takes us from the ship, into the centre of town, the sun is shining and the streets are full of not only locals but tourists, some from us and the other ship in port, the P&O Aurora. We walk towards the cable-car terminal.
Then, the cable car.
Having reached the terminus, we stroll along a narrow, winding cobbled street, passing tropical gardens and lush, verdant pastures. 200 metres along the road is where the sleds wait and the most unusual ride.
We take a taxi back, down the hill, 3¼ miles to the centre of Funchal. Here I leave the ladies and return to the ship, this so as to give my 2nd-in-command, Thomas, some time ashore before we leave. I started this post yesterday and now, writing on the 23rd, we are over 300 miles west of Madeira and around 2800 east of Florida. The weather is cool, however it is sunny and seas are reasonably quiet. I expect some wind and swell tomorrow, (our Sunday) as we come under the influence of a weather depression rolling east, this time of year there seems to be regular procession of the pesky things, however this one should be too uncomfortable.